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Could the Dodgers Finally Move Away from Platoons in 2021?

Depth has been a strength for this team in recent years, but that may be tested this season



It’ll take some time to get used to not seeing Joc Pederson or Kiké Hernández in the dugout at Dodger Stadium in 2021. Not only were both players incredibly fun to watch, but they also played a key role in the Dodgers’ system.

For the past few seasons, LA has truly bought into a win-by-committee approach. They’ve used the platoon arguably more than any other team during that time period, and that was thanks, in part, to both Joc and Kiké. Both players sacrificed pride and playing time in order to make it work, but their willingness to do so culminated in a World Series title this past season.

With both players moving on to different teams heading into 2021, the Dodgers may have to alter their platoon approach. There is still plenty of depth within the organization, but they have yet to prove it at the big league level. They do still have Chris Taylor, who looks to be the perfect candidate to fill the super-utility role, and he may be one of the most important Dodgers this season. Even so, one player is not much of a safety net. Ultimately, the playing style for the club may come down to how a few other players perform.

Gavin Lux

If there were ever a need for Gavin Lux to have a breakout season, 2021 would be it. Many predicted that the 23-year-old infielder would take the reigns at second base in 2020, but a number of issues kept him off the roster altogether for most of the year.

In his place, the Dodgers started Kiké Hernández at second for 30 of the 60 regular-season games. With Hernández now a member of the Boston Red Sox, the Dodgers will need to replace his production at second internally. Lux will get the first opportunity, but should he struggle to produce yet again, the team may be forced to use Chris Taylor there more often than they would like. And as the only other outfielder projected to be on the roster outside of Betts, Bellinger, and Pollock, this severely handicaps any platoon options the Dodgers may be considering.

One way or another, Lux will be key to the Dodgers’ success this season.

Related: Why Chris Taylor could be LA’s most valuable player in 2021

Zach McKinstry

Following the departure from Hernández, McKinstry is the most likely option to replace him on the 26-man roster, given his ability to play multiple positions and the success he showed early last season during spring training. Assuming that he gets a roster spot, it would still take time for him to earn enough trust to regularly fill in for any regulars.

Zach McKinstry is almost exclusively an infielder, but he can play any of the outfield positions in a pinch if needed. Assuming that he has another impressive spring, he might be able to compete for the second base job if Lux struggles.

Final Thoughts

Assuming everything goes according to plan, the Dodgers could very well continue to platoon to a certain extent next season, but not to the extent that they did in, let’s say, 2018 for example. In fact, Chris Taylor has already acknowledged that he’s preparing to play all over the field once again. This would be the best-case scenario, but there is much less room for error after their offseason losses.

Spring Training is set to kick-off on February 18th with the first full-squad workout scheduled for February 23rd, so we are just a few short days away from finding out how this year’s squad will approach things.

NEXT: LA Completes Trades With A’s & Marlins! Floro, Kolarek, Thomas Out Neuse, Vesia In!

Written by Daniel Palma

Daniel is an avid sports fan who loves his hometown teams. If he's not watching baseball, you can find him playing or coaching. No matter what, he'll always root for the Boys in Blue!

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  1. Depending on Justin Turner 3b will possibly be a platoon. Everybody is hoping for Lux to breakout. I still see a platoon at that position as well. LF will be a platoon also, and so will Catcher with Barns and Smith.

    • For the most part the catching position is usually handled by 2 players to begin with. It appears Will Smith will get more of the starts, except when CK or Buehler pitches. Of course if there was to be a DH then Will would see more playing but without the DH, Smith sits when Barnes catches unless with no JT, he plays some 3B.

  2. Players want to play. The Dodgers have kept their entire roster active by platooning at positions. I think there will be considerable platooning at 3rd and 2nd base. Do they give Pollock the opportunity to hit right-handed pitching, maybe. Pollock has had a history of injury one way to manage that is by playing him less to preserve him for the playoffs.
    Even if Turner signs he has been injury prone and is slowing down. Rios has to be given the opportunity to see if he is as good a hitter as he has shown in limited at-bats. If Rios is as good as he has been then Hoese becomes a trade chip.

    • I am not so sure trading Howse would be ideal, being that he’s a RHB on a team that others have pointed out having a plethora of LHB in the system at the present. But Roberts has said that the players themselves determine the lineups by showing they can compete against all comers.

  3. McKinstry is just another LHB, and right now Dodgers need to get another RHB especially if Turner goes elsewhere. And without a DH, this roster is not or will not be as good on the depth chart in 2021.

  4. With top players at 5 positions, and a ridiculous stable of starting pitchers, we are pretty set for a special year. While the bullpen is a bit light on reliable stoppers, the fact that two of those starters spill into the bullpen, plus plenty of quantity of good arms, gives me confidence that they will find enough guys having good years to get the job done. While pretty much every other team in MLB has more potential holes, the typical depth we are used to is much lighter. With no DH, with Smith sitting out about a third of the games, and less depth to cover injuries with known entities, there will be plenty of days the line up will be less imposing than we are used to. But it seems certain they will add another right handed hitter, [they really could use 2], so hard to evaluate anything til we see the final roster.

  5. i’ve never liked how roberts filled out the lineup card. different every day. i’m with the old school managers who trotted out the same lineup every single day. this resting players is for the birds. 20+ year old players hardly need rest and it probably makes em frustrated to sit. i strongly believe that the continuity of the same infield leads to a “well oiled machine”. tinkers to evers to chance didn’t get their handle by sitting. i’d rather go with my gut and sit a player if he’s in a slump or play him if he’s hot. i don’t think joc bought into “win by committee”. he didn’t have the temperament for it and probably needed to play every day to get back hitting lefties. statistics and metrics have their place but sometimes they don’t….ask blake snell.

  6. I was sorry to see that they made little, if any, effort to to retain either Kike or Joc. The biggest complication is Bellinger’s slow recovery. Cooper is a solid hitter with some power that would be a good acquisition. The Giants were glad to get Wood and McGee, two relievers that were not going to make the team

  7. Lux is going to get a shot at 2B because Taylor will be in the outfield for Bellinger until he can swing a bat effectively and painlessly. But a move to get a 1B, like Garret Cooper, could move Muncy to second and Lux out the door. Lux needs to put up or shut up this year, or he’s out.

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